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Plastics recycling: Placon adding in-house program for PET recycling

Sheet extruder and packaging thermoformer Placon Corp. announced it will build its own recycling facility to give it the ability to offer customers more choices of materials, including up to 100% post-consumer content polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The recycling facility also will be in Fitchburg and will be completed in two phases. First, in the third quarter of 2010 Placon will add an additional extruder for its EcoStar-brand sheet. By the first quarter of next year it then plans to have in operation its own bottle washing equipment.

will add an additional extruder for its EcoStar-brand sheet. By the first quarter of next year it then plans to have in operation its own bottle washing equipment. The company also plans to recycle post-consumer PET thermoformed packaging.

In a change, it also will market some of its EcoStar branded sheet on the open market; to now it had extruded this sheet only for its own use. Placon introduced its EcoStar packaging in 2008, with products marketed for food-contact and non-food-contact applications. All have at least 35% post-consumer recycled content. 

Demand for PET bottle recyclate for thermoformed packaging is skyrocketing in the U.S. as the material grabs a greater share of the packaging market, and also because to date, most processors have been unable to secure a suitable supply of post-consumer thermoformed PET packaging, as related in this article. In answer to MPW questions, Jennifer Mitchell, Placon's marketing communications manager, said the processor's purchasing dept currently is working to secure a sufficient supply of bales of both bottles and thermoforms from recyclers in Wisconsin and other Midwest states. "Many communities collect all plastics and separate them once they get back to the (recycling) facilities. Some (of that collected recyclate) stays here and a lot of plastic ends up going to China...We are working to keep more recycled plastic right here," she said, continuing, "There hasn’t been a demand for recycled thermoforms in the U.S. but we are creating it. Our recycling facility will be able to handle both bottles and thermoforms opening up a much larger supply of recycled PET." Placon wants to create a closed loop system so consumers know that when they put PET clamshell packs in with curbside recyclables, these will be recycled into new packages.

With the new recycling capacity, Placon will join a short list of thermoformers to implement its own in-house recycling; another is PWP. With the new facility, Placon will receive curbside collected bottles to clean, grind and extrude into sheet. The company estimates that over the last seven years its use of recycled content in its packaging has diverted more than one billion discarded bottles from landfills. Placon will receive $250,000 in tax credits from the Economic Development Tax Credit Program from Wisconsin's Dept. of Commerce for the new recycling facility. [email protected]

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